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appropriate singing model before being expected to sing themselves.


When my students do begin to sing, they start small. We play musical games that help them identify and sing the resting tone. We audiate and sing lots and lots of tonal patterns. We hear lots of songs, but their goal isn’t to learn to sing whole songs. Their goal is to hear the context (tonality) of those songs. Kindergarteners begin to think critically about the music by drawing comparisons between what we are hearing and what we are doing - which can be two very different things. Their goal is to embark on that musical journey of teaching themselves. My goal is to help create musical beings who sing, chant, create, impro- vise, compose, listen, and enjoy music with meaning and understanding. None of that can happen when students split-second imitate, so I teach my Kindergarteners how to audiate to help create the musical building blocks they need to become amazing musical beings.


So how can you begin to build your students’ musical vocabulary? Colker (2014) outlined ideas to help develop a child’s vocabulary during the preschool years. I adapted this list to reflect ways in which we can do the same musi- cally for our youngest students.


• Make music for your students! Sing to them! Chant to them! Think of how often teachers and parents read to children. Each story provides a rich listening experience through contextual vocabulary. Singing and chanting for your students does the same. As they listen, give them jobs to actively engage in the lesson. I often say to students, “my job is to sing, and your job is to audiate and move.” Guide your students to know that active listening builds their capacity to learn.


• Use inflection while chanting rhymes or rhythms to your students. As music teachers, we spend a lot of time exploring and labeling the ways our voices work. Speaking, singing, whisper, playground voices abound in the music room! Include inflection in your exploration as well. It serves as a readiness to com- municate expression and dynamics in music.


• Sing for your students, but do not sing with them. I’m a stickler about not singing with students. Even in Kindergarten, the moment my students can sing a song independent of me, I sing a different part. As my students sing the melody, I sing basic chord root har- mony to provide harmonic readiness. By not singing with your students, you help them to become indepen- dent musicians.


• Another great strategy is to ask your students to reflect upon their performance after learning a song. Are they using their singing voice? Are they singing a phrase correctly? Are they ending on the resting tone? These are simple questions that help get your Kindergarten students thinking about their singing.


• Use lots of poetry and nursery rhymes in your instruction! There is such richness in language, meter, and rhythm within the nursery rhymes of our culture. Nursery rhymes provide rich musical context (meter) in both duple (4/4) and triple (3/4) meters, and you can extend rhymes and poems with rhythm pattern instruction. So often, we ask students to tap, clap, or move to a simple 4-beat rhythm patterns. What if, instead, we asked them to chant them with their speaking voice? Or audiate them? Or identify same and different rhythm patterns? Or to improvise rhythm patterns? At Kindergarten, this is best done using a neutral syllable (e.g., “bah”) because students need to experience the rhythm pattern before having to label or chant the pattern using a solfege system. This guided pattern instruction helps build a child’s rhythmic vocabulary and audiation.


• Interact with your children musically. So often we limit our musical interactions to echoing. Invite your students to improvise musically. Instead of singing a same pattern, ask them to sing a different pattern. In- stead of YOU always giving the pattern to be echoed, have the student give you a pattern to echo! Can you imagine how boring life would be if we only echoed one another in conversation? Why do we promote that musically? Be different! Provide opportunities for your students to engage in “musicing” conversa- tions where they only respond by singing or chanting rhythmically. Sing a song and leave the ending off and ask your students to imagine and sing a new end- ing to the song. There are so many ways to encourage improvisation in the music room!


• Give students opportunities to simply listen or audi- ate. Do not let the practice of audiation be an after- thought in the music room. Because my Kindergarten students have music after their lunch/recess period, I often use audiation activities as a way to calm their bodies and encourage a change in their mental state so that they are ready to learn. Make audiation a priority in each and every lesson.


Walk into any elementary classroom and you will see teachers reading to their students. In doing so, students have opportunities to listen to fluent reading and inflection, wonder about context and content, and make inferences


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